The UK handicap system (CONGU) before October included knowing how many strokes you received, using the stroke index to see whether or not you received an extra shot on a hole. On holes with a stroke index between 1 and 14, you would receive an extra shot so if hole 5 was stroke index 6 and was a par 4 you would have 5 shots to make a net par. The number of shots an individual received was the same on each course and on all tees. This was made to make the game of golf fair for golfers of all levels but didn’t fully address the fact some courses are harder than others.
Why they changed the handicap system:
WHS (the world handicap system) is used by 15 million people in 80 different countries around the world. Golf’s governing bodies changed the system so that globally the system would be the same for everyone. Also this system is better at regularly calculating your playing ability. This helps club golfers get a good idea of their skill level.
How the new system works:
The WHS calculates your handicap from your best 8 scores out of your 20 most recent events. When a new score is submitted, the system will update your handicap by 0.1 for each shot above or below handicap, based on the last 20 rounds submitted. This increases the range a handicap can be adjusted, compared to the CONGU system where you could only go up 0.1 if you shot
The slope ratings and how it works:
The slope rating represents the relative difficulty of a course for different sets of tees on any given day and can vary depending on the weather conditions. It is the difficulty comparison between a bogey golfer and a scratch golfer from the same set of tees. The higher the Slope Rating, the greater the difference expected between the scores of those scratch and bogey golfers. A higher rating doesn’t necessarily mean that the course is more difficult than another.
A Bogey Rating is the measure of playing difficulty from a set of tees when played by a bogey golfer (a player who has a Course Handicap of approximately 20 for a male and 24 for a female). The scratch rating measures how many strokes a scratch golfer or a professional golfer (a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero) should take on any given course. The use of slope helps a player’s handicap to be more accurate on different courses. When playing in different countries it gives a better indication of which tees a golfer should play from and how well they have performed relative to their home course.
Each set of tees will have a slope rating value between 55 and 155. The higher the slope rating the more additional shots a bogey golfer will need to play it. The rating is gender specific so each tee will have a gender specific slope rating.
A course with challenges such as hazards, thick rough and long carries can make the slope rating harder than par meaning the player may get more or less shots than their WHS handicap.
Although this may sound incredibly sophisticated, the end goal is to simplify and unify handicapping at a global level. Following the initial teething issues the WHS will improve golfer’s handicaps for amateurs and club members.